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Excessive Force?

An investigation is underway to determine whether University Police officers used excessive force in subduing a Penn freshman after they arrested him and two other men for disorderly conduct. In the incident, the three men, allegedly under the influence of alcohol, were arguing outside the Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) house on Locust Walk the night of October 30. University Police officers approached the three and, after some verbal exchanges, reportedly told the freshman, his older brother (an assistant U. S. attorney), and their friend (a Harvard University alumnus and former football player) that they were under arrest. Only the older brother submitted; the other two ran into the FIJI house.
   The officers then entered the FIJI house attempting to arrest the freshman and the friend. The friend fled through the back door and allegedly assaulted four officers before being subdued and arrested at 36th and Walnut streets; during that altercation a number of Philadelphia Police officers arrived on the scene. The freshman remained in the house and was eventually handcuffed. In a letter to The Daily Pennsylvanian, eight students said they had seen the officers who entered the FIJI house beat the freshman "to the point of unconsciousness." The Penn Police have not commented officially on the case; according to Thomas Seamon, managing director of the Division of Public Safety, they are conducting their own internal investigation with regard to the officers' conduct.
   In a statement, Ken Wildes, director of University Communications, said: "We are deeply concerned about allegations that a student was injured as a result of actions taken by University Police officers or those representing other law-enforcement agencies."
   The freshman has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest; his hearing in Philadelphia Municipal Court was set for December 8th. The friend has been charged with four felony counts of aggravated assault; his hearing was scheduled for late November. The older brother entered a voluntary pre-trial diversion program.

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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 12/11/97